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On Michael Haneke

Edited by Brian Price and John David Rhodes

Publication Year: 2010

Austrian director Michael Haneke is recognized for films that explore the most pressing social questions of our time while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of style with innovative visual and sonic practices. On Michael Haneke is one of the very first and most extensive considerations of Haneke’s work. Editors Brian Price and John David Rhodes have gathered contributors whose own work combines critical inquiry and close formal analysis to explore the philosophical, historical, and stylistic complexity of Haneke’s films. This volume is divided into three parts, beginning with “Violence and Play,” in which contributors explore the relation in Haneke’s films between violence and playfulness that complicates questions of media, representation, and morality. Essays in part 2, “Style and Medium,” investigate Haneke’s stylistic innovation and the ways in which he can be seen as indebted to previous traditions and filmmakers, including the Italian neorealists, Alfred Hitchcock, Antonioni, and Robert Bresson. Part 3 addresses questions of “Culture and Conflict” by looking at the cultural and historical problems suggested by Haneke’s films and exploring the relation between culture and film style. On Michael Haneke is both an introduction to the work of a major figure in world cinema and a model for modern media criticism. Scholars of film and television studies, cinephiles, and anyone interested in contemporary film culture will enjoy On Michael Haneke.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-12

We are tempted to consider the cinema of Michael Haneke with what might be the too-convenient discourses supplied to us by the accidents of his birth, the arc of his work and life, and the facts of the age—his age and ours. His most fully realized work for the cinema began to appear toward...

Part 1. Violence and Play

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Games Haneke Plays: Reality and Performance

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pp. 15-34

Code Unknown (Code inconnu, 2000) repeatedly subsumes an impulse toward realism within modernist concerns, substituting a perceptual realism situated in the spectator for the Bazinian realism of the image that it calls into question. Games with reality and illusion are its dominant strategy for...

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Pain and the Limits of Representation

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pp. 35-50

In an interview in Story Quarterly in 1995, the contemporary American writer Brian Evenson was asked to address the violent character of his writing. This violence had already led to the writer’s excommunication from both the Mormon Church and Brigham Young University (which asked...

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Haneke’s “Funny” Games with the Audience (Revisited)

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pp. 51-62

It has often been established that, in the cinematic experience, the audience can realize certain emotions affectively without feeling them “concretely.” In fact, the whole practice of cinema is built on the human capacity to be emotionally moved by what one knows does not “really” exist...

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Haneke’s Stable: The Death of an Animal and the Figuration of the Human

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pp. 63-84

Michael Haneke has often described his films as a “protest” against mainstream Hollywood cinema.1 One of the ways his work differs from Hollywood cinema is in its approach to violence. Haneke says: “The society we live in is drenched in violence. I represent it on the screen because...

Part 2. Style and Medium

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The Spectacle of Skepticism: Haneke’s Long Takes

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pp. 87-104

While the cinema used to make one situation produce another situation, and another, and another, again and again, and each scene was thought out and immediately related to the next (the natural result of a mistrust of reality), today, when we have thought out a scene, we feel the need to “remain” in it, because...

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“Comment ça, rien?”: Screening the Gaze in Caché

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pp. 105-126

Film theorists sometimes introduce their work as reading a certain cultural artifact “through a psychoanalytic lens.” This essay reads the opening long take of Michael Haneke’s Caché (2005) as a psychoanalytic lens, one that both magnifies the desire of protagonist Georges Laurent (Daniel Auteuil)...

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The Key to Voyeurism: Haneke’s Adaptation of Jelinek’s The Piano Teacher

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pp. 127-152

European reviewers warmly greeted the release of Michael Haneke’s film The Piano Teacher (La Pianiste) in 2001—to be expected, perhaps, considering the number of prizes the film garnered at the Cannes Film Festival the same year.1 To many, The Piano Teacher represented a successful adaptation...

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The Message and the Medium: Haneke’s Film Theory and Digital Praxis

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pp. 153-166

In the 1990s, Michael Haneke cultivated a reputation as one of Europe’s most controversial and radical feature filmmakers. His first theatrical releases, The Seventh Continent, Benny’s Video, 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance, and Funny Games, shocked audiences with their reflexive levels, distanced aesthetics, and treatments of violence. Haneke delighted at...

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Death, with Television

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pp. 167-190

In 1935, almost a decade before American broadcast television began to air on a regular basis, it would have been difficult for the young medium to effect much of anything. Still, the mere prospect of its emergence already loomed large enough in the popular imagination to inspire a B movie, starring...

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Haneke’s Early Work for Television

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pp. 191-204

Most people who are familiar with the films of Michael Haneke know that the director began his career first in the theater, then in television, before focusing his energies on feature-length, theatrically released filmmaking. While the theater productions, by their very nature, cannot be seen again...

Part 3. Culture and Conflict

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Haneke and the Discontents of European Culture

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pp. 207-220

At the risk of being perceived as pointlessly creating a kind of straw man out of a very distinguished critic, I would like to preface these remarks on Michael Haneke by commenting on Robin Wood’s thoughts in Sexual Politics and Narrative Film concerning the nature of fascism and what...

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The Functionary of Mankind: Haneke and Europe

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pp. 221-244

In an interview with the American independent film website IndieWire, Michael Haneke said, “As a European filmmaker, you cannot make a genre film seriously. You can only make a parody.” Asked why this was, he replied, “Because the genre film, by definition, is a lie. And a film is trying to be...

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Codes Unknown: Haneke’s Serial Realism

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pp. 245-266

No filmmaker has more self-consciously confronted the limits of realism in postmodernity than has Michael Haneke. In the films of his “glaciation trilogy”—The Seventh Continent, Benny’s Video, and 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance—these limits impose themselves as the simultaneous...

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Patrick Crowley When Forgetting Is Remembering: Haneke’s Caché and the Events of October 17, 1961

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pp. 267-280

Caché is and is not a film about the events that occurred in Paris in October 17, 1961, when scores of Algerians were killed by police officers and auxiliaries.1 Within the film, Georges’s single reference to the events surfaces to provide a rare unambiguous narrative before receding like previous attempts...


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pp. 281-284


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pp. 285-290

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780814336991
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814334058

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 15
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1
Volume Title: N/a
Series Title: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series